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Cultural Policy and National Culture Discourse in the 1960s and 1970s

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Oh, Myungseok

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Department of Anthropology, Seoul National University
Korean Anthropology Review, Vol.1 No.1, pp. 105-129
This article was originally published in 1998 in 『비교문화연구』 [Cross-cultural studies] 4: 121-152; Translated into English by Ben Jackson.
Bak Jeonghui (Park Chunghee) came to power in the Republic of Korea through a military coup on May 16, 1961, after a short-lived period of democracy brought by the April Revolution of the previous year. Parks regime can be characterized as one of developmental dictatorship. It made economic development the national priority, while cementing an authoritarian political system known as the Yusin (Renewal) regime. This study aims to determine the nature of cultural policy during this period. It does not address the entire character of Korean culture in the 1960s and 1970s; rather, by focusing on government cultural policy, it tries to reveal the ideology of national culture that the state attempted to form. Among the important agents of cultural production, i.e. market, civil society, and the state, I focus on the state. Of course, these agents did not act in mutual isolation. They influenced and were influenced by each other, and it is right to regard the states cultural policy as often conflicting with markets pop culture and the peoples (or, subaltern) culture movement supported by civil activists, or to see these agents as interpenetrative. These questions, however, are not discussed in earnest here.
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